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Genes may "govern" smoking habits

Smokers who find it hard to cut down or quit may be prisoners to their biological make-up, a study has claimed.

Scientists identified three genetic mutations associated with the habit - one seemingly influencing the decision to start smoking, another linked to the number of cigarettes smoked each day and another with kicking the habit.

The results, published in the journal Nature Genetics, add weight to a study conducted two years ago, which found a common single-letter change in the genetic code linked to nicotine addiction and lung cancer risk.

Dr Kari Stefansson, one of the researchers involved in the latest investigation, said: "What is clear is that these variants - which are all near genes that encode nicotine metabolising enzymes and receptors - are giving us a solid starting point for finding answers to advance personal and public health."

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Nature Genetics